Group Rating

Mar 20, 2009 (LBO) – Fitch Ratings has confirmed the ‘AAA(lka)’ rating of Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings (JKH) with a ‘stable’ outlook. The ‘AAA(lka)’ rating of the group’s senior notes were also confirmed “JKH’s rating reflects the diversified nature of its businesses, the currently strong financial profile driven in part by its high cash position, continued strong operating cash generating ability, and the dominant market share of some subsidiaries,” Fitch said.

The cash position was estimated at 10 billion rupees as of March 3, 2009 at the holding company.

Fitch says that JKH has yet to announce plans with regards to the deployment of its cash assets.

“Should these deployments be in long-term projects with aggressive investment schedules, as well as protracted projected dividend flows, JKH’s credit metrics can be expected to weaken over the medium term.”

Fitch says there is some probability of event risk with regards to JKH’s ratings -which the agency will continue to monitor and take necessary rating actions as needed.

Fitch expects JKH’s bunkering business (post 2008 margin erosion) and the Maldivian hotels segment to overcome operational restrictions faced in the 2009 financ